Timberwolves 101, Wizards 89
The Minnesota Timberwolves of the future took advantage of some
Timberwolves of the past to reach a high point in the present.
Corey Brewer scored 23 of his career-high 27 points in the
second half to lead the Timberwolves to a 101-89 victory over the
Washington Wizards on Saturday night, giving the young and
rebuilding Wolves back-to-back wins for the first time in what has
already been a trying season.
“I feel like we are a young team and we are just getting better
game-by-game and hopefully we can keep it up all season,” Brewer
Kevin Love added 17 points and 10 rebounds and the Timberwolves
overcame 37 percent shooting by pummeling the Wizards 56-45 on the
glass and 22-7 in second-chance points.
“This is terrible. We feel as though we’re much better than
this,” said guard Randy Foye, one of seven Wizards players and
coaches with significant ties to the Timberwolves organization.
“Not to take anything away from the Timberwolves, but we felt as
though they’re a young team and they’re growing.”
Wizards coach Flip Saunders coached in Minnesota from 1995-2005,
going 411-326 and leading the Wolves to eight playoff appearances.
He was fired in 2005, less than a year after taking the Wolves to
the Western Conference finals.
Saunders was hired by the Wizards this offseason and he
assembled a staff that includes former Wolves head coach Randy
Wittman, former longtime Wolves assistant Don Zierden and former
Wolves point guard Sam Cassell.
On the roster, the Wizards have guards Mike James and Randy Foye
and swingman Mike Miller, all of whom played in Minnesota.
“We can call them the worst team in the West, but it’s not like
we’ve got that many wins over them,” Gilbert Arenas said of the
Wizards, who are 10-18 and in last place in the Southeast Division.
“Right now we are one of the worst teams in the East until we can
prove ourselves. Right now, we win two, we lose four.”
Timberwolves West 1, Timberwolves East 0.
As he watched his Wizards settle for jumpshot after jumpshot and
get beat 19-7 in offensive rebounds, Saunders repeatedly made
dismissive gestures toward the court.
“I was frustrated,” Saunders said. “It’s like I told our
players, as coaches, I’m not going to change what we do, a coverage
defensively or something, just because we don’t do it hard or do it
right. When you don’t do it hard or do it right, no matter what you
do, it’s not going to work.”
Arenas had 26 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. But he
made just 10 of 28 shots and committed seven turnovers.
With rookie point guard Jonny Flynn struggling from the field,
Ramon Sessions had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists in
relief for the Timberwolves, providing a huge lift off the bench
for a team that lost 17 of its first 19 games.
The Wolves beat New Jersey on Wednesday and now are 4-3 in their
last seven games, the first tangible signs of progress this
Arenas was questionable heading into this game after a scary
collision against Milwaukee on Wednesday night. He crashed into
Ersan Ilyasova on a drive to the basket and left the game clutching
his left knee, which has had three surgeries in the last 18 months
that limited him to 15 total games in the past two seasons.
He started slowly on Saturday, going 2 for 7 in the first
quarter. But he scored 12 points in the third quarter before
shooting the Wizards right out of the game in the fourth.
Arenas was 1 for 8 in the final period and committed two
careless turnovers that helped Minnesota take control.
“We’ve got one of them teams right now that when we get down,
we feel like we have to take it on our shoulders,” Arenas said.
“I’m the main culprit of that. When we get down, I feel, you know,
that I have to give us that spark to get back and it just didn’t
Ryan Hollins started a 9-0 run with a thunderous dunk over the
6-foot-11 Andray Blatche that got the young Wolves revved up.
Sessions capped the spurt after Arenas dribbled the ball off his
foot, going baseline with a nifty reverse layup for a 79-71 lead
with 6:21 to go.
Antawn Jamison scored 20 and Foye added 16 while already looking
forward to a Feb. 17 rematch in Washington.
“We’re going to get them back,” Foye said. “We play them
after the All-Star break. We’ll get them back pretty good when they
come to Washington.”
NOTES: Timberwolves F Ryan Gomes played for the first time in
seven games because of a sprained left ankle. He had five points in
16 minutes. … Miller has missed 16 straight games with a strained
right calf. … The Timberwolves were supposed to wear blue
throwback uniforms from their inaugural season in 1989, but the
Wizards did not bring their white uniforms with them to
Minneapolis. So the Wolves wore their current home white digs.